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Updates from the December 2021 Board of Managers Meeting

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff Members,

We hope this message finds you well. We write with a brief recap of the Board of Managers meeting, which was held on Friday, Dec. 3 and Saturday, Dec. 4. The Board gathered in person and spent time on campus for the first time since February 2020. It was wonderful to see each other in person, including several managers for whom this was their first time meeting other managers and being on campus since joining the Board, and it was also incredibly meaningful to be able to spend time with students, faculty, and staff members. 

We began Friday by learning more about the centrality of the College’s mission to the strategic planning initiative, including its connection to the central themes of curricular and pedagogical practices, the student experience within and beyond the classroom, and leadership in a multiracial democracy and the world. President Smith looks forward to sharing more on the planning process, including information on the various working-group charges and membership, early in the new year. 

Following our discussion on strategic planning, Vice President for Advancement Liz Wood presented an analysis of the advancement operation based on her first six months at the College. Liz highlighted opportunities to increase engagement with alumni and other constituencies and outlined fundraising and engagement strategies in support of the College’s mission, including an update on supporting the proposed renovation of Martin Hall for an interdisciplinary space that would house Computer Science and Film & Media Studies.

We then had the privilege of hearing from President Emerita of Princeton University Shirley Tilghman, who spoke with the Board about the challenges and opportunities facing higher education. We are grateful for her time and insights, particularly as we begin to plan for the next chapter in the life of the College.

Perhaps the most rewarding time on campus came Friday afternoon, when the Board had the opportunity to meet with faculty and students. First, managers met with a panel of faculty members who discussed their teaching and areas of research, including: 

  • Deon Benton, Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology
  • Adrienne Benally, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies
  • Ben Geller ’01, Assistant Professor of Physics, RPT, and Interim Director of the Swarthmore Summer Scholars Program
  • Carina Yervasi, Associate Professor of French and co-founder of the Global Studies Program 

Managers then had an opportunity to interact with students and learn more about their experience across areas such as academics, club sports, and advising. 

We want to thank the students and faculty members who participated in these lively discussions. Managers were deeply grateful for the chance to engage with members of the campus community, and we look forward to creating additional opportunities to do so in the future.   

On Saturday morning, the Board approved honorary degree candidates (to be announced publicly once they are confirmed) and the appointment of seven faculty members to endowed chairs.

As this was Vice President for Finance and Administration Greg Brown’s final Board meeting before his retirement, the Board recognized his many accomplishments and service to the College by announcing the dedication of a room in the new Dining and Community Commons in his honor as well as endowing an annual staff award in his name, which will recognize the extraordinary contributions that staff members in Auxiliary Services, Dining Services, Environmental Services, Facilities, and Public Safety make to the life of the College. We look forward to sharing more information on this award in the near future.    

Outside of the formal meeting, managers attended a number of events during their time on campus, including Friday evening’s Fetter Chamber Music Concert and the men’s and women’s basketball games on Saturday. Managers also had an opportunity to take a hardhat tour of the Dining and Community Commons building, the first phase of which is on track to open in summer 2022. It was wonderful to be able to engage with members of the campus community in these and other ways for the first time in nearly two years. We know and appreciate the tremendous efforts that have gone into helping keep the campus community safe and healthy throughout the pandemic. That you’ve been able to do so while continuing to carry out the mission of the College is a testament to your creativity, compassion, and care for yourselves and for each other. 

Best of luck with final exams and the conclusion of the fall semester, 

Valerie Smith, President
Salem Shuchman ’84, Chair, Board of Managers